NEW DELHI :
American technology giant, IBM, has unveiled the world’s first 2nm process chip, providing a proof of concept for what chips running smartphones, autonomous cars and more will look like in future. The 2nm here refers to the size of transistors on a chip. Companies can fit more transistors on a chip, making them more powerful and efficient. Essentially, companies can make smaller chips, which consume less power for a given performance level, or vice versa.
The new 2nm chip, according to a response the company gave to AnandTech, holds 333 million transistors per square millimeter. So, a chip the size of a fingernail (150 square millimetres in this context) can hold as many as 50 billion transistors. In comparison, the 5nm chips made by the Taiwan Semiconductor Company (TSMC), which run on most smartphones today, have approximately 171 million transistors per square millimeter.
The number of transistors on a chip is important because of Moore’s Law, a guiding concept in chip design that was given by ex-Intel chief executive officer Gordon Moore, in 1965. The law states that the number of transistors on an integrated circuit will double every two years, which in turn doubles the performance. While Moore’s Law started failing when companies reached the 10nm mark, increasing the number of transistors on chips remains an important aspect of chip design.
According to IBM, a 2nm chip will “quadruple” battery life on smartphones, requiring users to charge their phones every four days. They will also reduce the carbon footprint of data centers, by reducing the number of chips required to run servers. In addition, laptops will become faster as will object detection in autonomous cars.
“More transistors on a chip also means processor designers have more options to infuse core-level innovations to improve capabilities for leading edge workloads such as AI and cloud computing, as well as new pathways for hardware-enforced security and encryption,” the company said in a blog post.
That said, IBM’s new design is only a proof of concept, meaning you shouldn’t expect a real 2nm chip on smartphones or other devices for at least a few years. At the moment, leading chip developers suchSamsung and TSMC are producing 5nm chips in their foundries, while PC chip giant Intel is just scratching the 7nm mark. TSMC had said earlier that it plans to begin production of 4nm chips by the end of 2021, and 3nm chips are expected in the second half of next year.
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